Booing the Bulls’ Goran Dragic wasted energy considering what he’s seen

It might cause a certain amount of anxiety for most NBA players.

To have to go into a road arena in which the fan base felt they were somehow wronged by you doesn’t exactly scream warm, cuddly welcome.

Then again, Goran Dragic isn’t most NBA players.

So rather than battling with hurt emotions Sunday in Toronto, the Bulls veteran let the home-town crowd know exactly where he stood with them, at one point putting his finger to his lips, sending the message they were better off staying silent.

“Just having some fun,” Dragic said of his actions.

Because for Dragic that was fun. It was actually a picnic compared to life in the Adriatic League.

“That’s nothing, the boos, nothing,” Dragic said, referring to his early days of growing up in European Basketball. “I played in Greece, I played in Belgrade, they’re throwing coins, golf balls, lighting fires just because of where I’m from. That’s a normal environment for us.

“We were in Croatia and we had a game against Zadar, and the fans came down from the bleachers, and they came after us. We all had to run into a locker room and lock the door. Then they smashed all the windows on our bus and we had to drive home six hours without showering, with no windows, and glass all over. The security loaded us on the bus out of the locker room and we had to keep our heads down with towels over them because they were still throwing stuff. That was one of the craziest experiences I’ve been a part of.”

In other words, Raptors fans have a long way to go to even make Dragic flinch, let alone shake his psyche.

Evidence of that was offered up in how he performed. In the Sunday game in Toronto, yes, the Bulls lost, but Dragic was 6-of-10 from the field and finished with 16 points. A night later against the Raptors, albeit back in Chicago, facing the organization he was a brief member of, Dragic had 10 points off the bench and was a plus-18 in plus/minus.

His message to Raptors fans was move on, because he has.

It was in the 2021 offseason in which Dragic was traded from Miami to Toronto in the Kyle Lowry deal.

“Toronto is not my preferred destination,” Dragic said back then. “I have higher ambitions.”

He immediately apologized for those comments, and let it be known that he had nothing but respect for the city of Toronto. It was more about not wanting to move his family after spending seven years in Miami and putting down some roots.

That didn’t matter in the social media universe, as Dragic was quickly turned into a forever-Toronto villain, despite having a reputation as one of the more down-to-earth teammates in the league.

He ended up playing five games for the Raptors, before it was reported that he left for a personal leave, but on Monday, Dragic said that was not the case at all.

“If I’m honest, [the Raptors] made that decision,” Dragic said. “They told me to go home, so it wasn’t on me. OK, I did say something at the beginning of the season and I did apologize, and that was it. I moved on. They told me they wanted to go young so I respect that.

“The fans can think whatever, and I know what’s true and what’s not. I understand it’s part of the business, so sometimes it’s not the right fit. You try and find the right one and move on. I have.”

The Bulls and Raptors play one more time this season. It comes in late February, and it’s back in Toronto.

The boos will again be loud.

That’s fine. Dragic has dealt with much worse.

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